Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake & the “Up” Mailbox

My favorite way to find a new recipe is to type the ingredients from my cupboard into Google and see what I can make with what I have. It usually still requires a trip to either my trusty Capitol Food Mart (or sometimes aaalll the way to the O Street Market Giant), but it’s still a nice thrifty cheat for cooking dinner.

Now, as I mentioned previously, I’m organizing Max’s first birthday party, and the theme is Up, which was Max’s first word. In keeping with the theme, I’ll be serving food from South America.

Fortunately, I’ve already perfected just the dish.

Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake

1 cup quinoa
1 onion
1 cup frozen corn
2 cans black beans
2 cans green enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 jalapeno pepper
a teensy bit of lime juice
seasonings: salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil the quinoa in 2 cups of water, until water is absorbed.
  3. Chop your onion and your jalapeno.
  5. Toss child scraps of bacon that were cooked before you started making dinner because God forbid you fail to offer a pre-dinner snack.
  6. Heat tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and saute onions, garlic, and jalapenos.
  7. Add corn to your veggie pan, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  8. Make sure your baby is not dead; pull him away from the plugs.

  9. Why, oh why, must you play with plugs? Distract baby with corn popper.
  10. What a timeless tool of entertainment.
  11. It’s probably time to add the salt, pepper, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro to your veggie mix. Then, stir.
  12. Repeat step #8 — and also step #5.
  13. Don’t worry about spoiling his dinner; if your child is anything like mine then he’s basically a vacuum. Anyway, this dish freezes well.
  14. Move the cooked quinoa to a bowl, and cook the black beans (I use the same pot because you’re going to mix them anyway, and there’s no reason to wash two pots. Ain’t no momma got time for that.)
  15. Probably shouldn’t have left your bacon plate so close to the edge of the table, where your tiny demon could reach it. That’s a goner now. Throw it away.
  16. “Wahhhh the plate I broke made a loud noise.”
  17. Hug your demon.
  18. Combine the quinoa, beans, and then the veggies in your casserole dish. Stir, and pour in the enchilada sauce. Add 1 1/4 cups of cheese, and stir some more.
  19. Top with the rest of the cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.
  20. Voila! You’ve got your delicious dish – garnish with cilantro and other toppings as you wish.
Kid-tested, mother-approved.

In other news, I’m working on decorations for the party. I’ve already bought some props for our costumes as well as an actual helium balloon tank to blow up millions of balloons (that’s the primary decoration). I haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do with the door, but I know that I want to have the Up mailbox outside.


I’ve started to work on recreating this mailbox by using a Shutterfly box and some white paint. I cut the top off the box and cut the ends so that they’d be curved. I also cut the top part of each side so that the height would match with the ends.


Then I painted the box white.




Next, I had to come up with a way to make the top of my mailbox. I tried to use white paper, but it was way too flimsy.


So I bought white foam sheets, glued the ends of each sheet, and stuck them into my mailbox.



It’s not completely perfect, but I didn’t really need it to be. Here’s the finished product:



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